Volume 22, Number 21 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | October 2 - 8, 2009
By Patrick Hedlund
Off by a million
Overall leasing activity for office space Downtown has dropped by more than a million square feet since the onset of the economic crisis, while average asking rents have decreased by about $10 per square foot over the past year.
According to a September 2009 market report from brokerage CB Richard Ellis, the Lower Manhattan and Midtown South markets have recorded a total of 3.14 million square feet of lease signings for the year to date, compared to 4.21 million square feet as of August 2008.
Midtown South — which includes Union Square, Noho/Soho and Hudson Square/Tribeca — has seen overall leasing activity decline nearly 36 percent year to date compared to 2008, from 1.87 million square feet last year to 1.21 million square feet as of this August. The average asking rent for office space in Midtown South slipped by 20 percent year over year, from $53.37 per square foot to $42.68. Additionally, the market’s vacancy rate rose by more than 63 percent year over year, from 6.3 percent last summer to 10.3 percent currently.
Lower Manhattan, which includes the Financial District, World Financial Center and City Hall, has seen a 17 percent reduction in overall leasing activity year to date, from 2.34 million square feet of signings as of August 2008 to 1.94 million square feet of singings currently. The average asking price for space in Lower Manhattan decreased nearly 20 percent year over year, from $50.17 per square foot to $40.20. The market’s vacancy rate also increased slightly year over year, from 7.3 percent in August 2008 to 7.5 percent currently.
A just-opened public sculpture park in Hudson Square suffered an unflattering reception from one self-styled critic who spray-painted “This is not Art!!” across a pair of the plaza’s installations.
The perpetrator, who has not been caught, offered the critique of the sculptures at LentSpace, the Trinity Real Estate-owned vacant-lot-turned-exhibition-space at Canal and Varick Sts.
The tags, which appeared only days after the half-acre plot’s Sept. 18 opening, covered two of the sculptures in large black spray paint, including one of the space’s most prominent pieces. The lettering has since been scrubbed from the sculptures, but faint dark blots still remain.
“I appreciate the fact that someone joined the conversation,” said project curator Adam Kleinman, of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. “Making things public is fantastic. However, vandalism is illegal, it’s someone else’s property, and it isn’t public by definition.”
And although Kleinman called the graffitist “infantile” and “cowardly” for his or her actions, he said the artists were actually “delighted” by the additions.
“The artists themselves were interested in it,” he added, while not encouraging anymore freelance art criticism. “Categorically it is illegal.”